This isn’t a ‘how to’ guide, I wish I had the trick, it’s just a quick run-down on how I went about the task and was lucky enough to be successful without too many false trails. There are 114 million results to ‘finding a publisher’ on Google, so there’s no shortage of advice. Try putting the same term into Amazon and there are over 100 books dedicated to the topic. In among all of this material I came across a list of UK-based publishers of crime fiction so I copied them all into a spreadsheet.
Next, I visited the website of every one of the 63 on the list – or at least those who had a website. I discarded all of those who weren’t accepting submissions or who only accepted them through an agent. I hadn’t got an agent and one of the other bits I found on the ‘net was that it’s as hard to get an agent as a publisher. This left me around sixteen possibles.
I then visited the websites again, delving in a little more, and discarded all those which appeared like vanity publishers (I didn’t want to go down that route) or where they had a specific sub-genre or target audience which wasn’t relevant to my novel. In the end I had eight publishers who I thought it worth submitting to.
I transferred all of their contact details on to my spreadsheet and visited their websites again. This time I checked the submission guidelines for their required submission format and, surprise, surprise, they were nearly all different. Some wanted one sample chapter, some none (just a synopsis), some three chapters. Some wanted a ‘short’ synopsis, some a long one, and so on. All went on the spreadsheet. Most accepted electronic submissions but, annoyingly, some wanted hard copy.
Individual letters were sent, strictly adhering to the stated, or gleaned, requirements and I waited. A small number asked for the full manuscript. One expressed further interest and if I’d actually interviewed the 63 I started with I don’t think I’d have found a more insightful and supportive one than Grey Cells Press, who is publishing A Shadowed Livery in April.
All I’m suggesting, in order to save heartache and postage, is simply do a little research before sending your baby out into the big wide world to do battle.